I just got back from riding the DR with one of 'my other forum' (SVRider) sponsors, MotoCaribe , on a DL650. Warning - it's gonna be long, skip to the pictures if you don't like to read ;D July 25th, Another Trip Coming Up! ---------------------------------- The place I work was bought by a much larger company some time back, and it's been frustrating for a number of reasons. When we were purchased, the new company paid out most of our vacation time, when I had nearly 7 weeks saved up that I planned on taking. Coincidentally, a new sponsor on the SVRider forum had posted they were doing discounted trip rates for the next few months, just as I was remembering I needed to confirm my vacation balance, and what was going to happen to it at the end of the year.. It turns out that the vacation payout was a one time occurrence, and now each year at year end, any vacation balance we have over 2 weeks we simply..lose! I thought this was paid out, but after confirming this to not be the case, I realized I really needed to take some vacation! Well...I'm single at the moment, so no one to 'negotiate' a destination with, and while I generally prefer to do my own thing on a trip, schedule and activity-wise, the idea was sort of appealing. I've had a few miserable trips by taking someone I did not mesh with well for vacations (a last minute trip to HI, a few others), so while I'd rather go on a vacation by myself over someone that turns into an annoyance, there are times that vacationing solo isn't what I feel like. The trip in question was riding across the Dominican Republic on DL650s, AKA Wee-Stroms. The DL650s are pretty similar overall to my BMW F650, which I've road-tripped on and done some off-road with as well...the DL650 is a bit quicker, and shares the same basic engine as my SV650, but with different cams and tune, while the F650 is a bit more off-road worthy. My F650 is in the process of being 'replaced' by the DRZ400S for off-road, and my new to me SV650 for on the road, but is a great bike. I haven't ridden a DL650 yet, and they are sort of funky looking, and while I suspect I'd much rather have my F off-road, it seems like a fine bike for general riding, and perhaps some hard dirt roads or riding along the beach on. So, I was seriously thinking about it. I checked out the website for MotoCaribe, and got some general info (Ed was great at responding to emails), as well as a few alternatives. Of course, I had to check pricing for Australia and New Zealand again, but that's still a wash - way too expensive for me right now. I did find some very cool trips to Honduras and Guatemala (Mayan ruins, among other things to see), and neither are exactly a 'tourist hotspot,' so that was pretty appealing, but it looks like I'm off-season for when they're offered. Pricing is somewhat comparable, including airfare, for a longer period of time, plus more off-road, so I think one of these may well be the trip after this one! Maya Moto Tours http://www.infohub.com/TRAVEL/SIT/sit_pages/19207.html http://www.infohub.com/TRAVEL/SIT/sit_pages/13409.html Also, this is a very cool page with some interesting links to third party tour vendors.. < $1k USD to do Vietnam for nearly 2 weeks..tempting! http://www.infohub.com/TRAVEL/SIT/sit_pages/motorcycle_tours.html Decision Made ---------------- I did some research on DR via the US Government Travel Pages, and the US Embassy DR website , wikipedia, and the like, and found out in no real order: - Yep, DR is quite poor, but generally likes tourists - I really should have taken Spanish! - There are outbreaks of Malaria and Dengue on occasion, I guess I should go get some shots or something.. :-/ And bring along bug repellent! - The usual thefts, armed robberies and impersonation of cops occurs there on occasion (seems to be the case for most countries in Central/South America) - Apparently, pot is illegal in DR. Minimum offense for carrying is something like 6 months in a Dominican prison and 1500RD fines (something like $150USD or so). http://www.usemb.gov.do/Consular/ACS/narcotics_arrest_in_DR-e.htm Ok, no partying of that type, I'll pass on a DR prison, thanks! - Sousa seems to be worse in general crimes and other things than elsewhere. Prostitution is legal in DR, apparently quite 'evident' in Sousa, and sometimes involving way underage girls, yech. We won't be going there, but I'll be watching what I might inadvertently say in my terribly broken Spanish! (we will have a native guide/interpreter, yay for that!) There's some more information here, http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1103.html , which goes on about identity theft, not suggesting the use of debit, credit, or ATM cards, as well as using only official taxis and the official bus line. Again, fairly typical - walking outside the airport in Costa Rica was similar to what I've heard of the taxis etc in DR. While I really would have loved to gone to Honduras (I almost married someone from there, and it just seems less 'touristy'), I think the DR trip came along at the right time, at a reasonable price, and MotoCaribe had good communication, new bikes, a support vehicle, and the itinerary looked pretty good, outside of waking up entirely too early when on vacation. Plus, I'll stop off for a day or two and visit Mom in FL en route, so it'll work out well, and I'm looking forward to it! Stuff Left to Do ----------------- I'm not so sure, really. It sounds like at a minimum, I need to investigate if I need any vaccinations or shots before going. It's going to be weird, going on a trip that has a support vehicle to carry stuff, has tools, etc. I'm going to have to re-think what to bring compared to going somewhere solo. Ed offered to let me carry some of their tools, but I expect I'll pass on that one!